Following a trend among hospitals around the region, Methodist Hospital of Southern California in Arcadia is planning a $32-million expansion that will actually reduce the number of beds by 30% and increase outpatient services instead.
The Patient Tower project, which is being financed through a combination of hospital reserves, bond sales and donations, will reduce the number of beds from 347 to 243, said Greg Bonn, a hospital vice president.
Because of advances in medical treatment and surgical techniques, the average number of days a patient needs to stay in the hospital has fallen dramatically, Bonn said, from an average of six days in 1990 to 5.4 days. As a result, many hospital beds go unused, costing hospitals the money to maintain them without the income from patients.
Of the 347 beds available at Methodist Hospital, only 190 were in use in mid-December.
"What we are encountering is a whole new era for hospitals," Bonn said.
In 1984 at Southern California hospitals, the average daily bed occupancy rate was about 65%, said David Langness, spokesman for the Hospital Council of Southern California. By this year, the rate had fallen to 48%.